Friday, August 31, 2012

Utah: Day 2

Rebecca had to go to Salt Lake this morning and so for the first few hours of the day, I visited with Lance and did some blogging and face booking.  Then when Becca got home, we decided to have a quick lunch before running out to the BYU bookstore up on campus.  I was in HEAVEN....
 The Cougareat and cafeteria area where the students still do all their hanging out and 'scoping out' of the freshman possibilities.
 And of course, my sole purpose for my visit to the BYU campus bookstore is to stock myself with the newest years football posters and shirts.  I purchased a new pair of BYU shorts, two football posters, a BYU puzzle and stayed all within my allotted budget.  I was so proud of myself and my self control and restraint.  Trust me, I could have and wanted to buy a LOT more!!!

 We came home and prepared a nice steak, potato and asparagus dinner for the family and my parents and then we started our evenings projects.  We had more peaches to peel and slice and we had the big project of extracting Becca's honey.
 Yes, this is Rebecca's husband, explain it all....

 My daddy chose to help us peel a few of the peaches with his bare knife.  I love my daddy's hands that I have watched as a dentist for years.  Now, they struggle with his Parkinson's Disease.

 Rebecca was showing daddy the techniques of spinning the honey in the extracting machine.  It really was quite fascinating to watch the whole process...from Lance preparing the honey comb trays, to Rebecca spinning and then bottling the honey. 

 After the peaches were finished for the night (we still have three more buckets to do tomorrow) and the honey project was complete, we decided to play a few games.  Daddy got hold of some candy, Smarties, and started flicking them across the table trying to keep them rolling to the other side before they would drop off.  He would giggle as Becca and I teased him about playing with his food and we finally gathered them all together and made him eat them, even if they had fallen to the floor.

As I was giving him the last of his candies, I noticed the calendar/appt book he had in his shirt pocket.  For as long as I can remember, my father has carried a pocket calendar in his shirt pocket.  For many years, it was the lifeline of his every day comings and goings and was the ONLY way he could be where he was supposed to be WHEN he was supposed to be there.  Speaking engagements, assignments, patriarchal blessing appointments, temple assignments and weddings to perform.  He had to write them down to remember them all.
Now, he has no appointments to be at, except doctor appointments...but there the calendar was; in his shirt pocket, with probably not much written in it.  But just case he is needed somewhere or by someone, he has his pocket calendar handy, ready to make note of where he needs to be and who needs him there.
I hope he has my name in it.

Utah: Day 1

Up bright and early Thursday morning...okay, not bright, but early.  Del drove me to the airport for my 8:30 flight - and I had a layover in Denver.  I text ed Kylie while in Denver telling her I was sitting in the airport watching for Peyton Manning (Broncos quarterback).  She dared me that if I saw him, she would pay me $20 bucks to pinch his butt.  I told her that for $40, she had herself a deal.  We had a fun bantering conversation which I found this morning on face book.  Glad she refrained from putting the FULL conversation on.
My sister Becca picked me up from the airport and we had the best conversation in the car on the way to dad and moms house.  It's always fun being with my sisters.  We never lack for anything to talk about...(no comments from smart mouths thank you).. We just gabbed about grand kids (she's new Nana) and her daughter Jenna that is waiting to have her baby after such much difficult moments of pregnancy.  Then we got to mom and dads.
What was I expecting???  I'm pleased to say that I found my mother and father both waiting for my arrival...big hugs from them both...and my mother had HOT homemade bread on the counter ready to be eaten by ME!!  Daddy looked good.  He's always dressed nicely for the day and he had on nice slacks and a nice shirt and got up from the couch to give me a big hug.  I had to assist him get up and down, and he used a cane to keep him up, but otherwise, I was very pleased to see him look as good as he did.  While visiting and chatting, he made his way to outside where he went to pick some tomatoes he had grown.  Becca said he was 'showing off for me' of how good he was feeling.  I was thrilled he looked so good.

We had a short amount of time to play a few hands of Make a Million before I had to head off to my haircut appointment.  During the game, I was able to notice a few things observing my daddy.  His hands still shake, but not uncontrollably and he is very much slouched over in his chair.  He cannot sit up straight.  His nose will run on occasion and he can't feel that happening, so we have to tell him to wipe his nose.  But his mind is still sharp and quick, especially when it comes to games.  He's lost NOTHING there.
My mother was knitting when I arrived.  She has been knitting since the age of 3 when she lived in England.  To say she's good? is almost comical.  She doesn't watch while she knits.  She either watches t.v, reads a book or talks to people as she knits.  Seldom, if EVER, does she 'drop a stitch' or make a mistake, and she produces beautiful baby sweaters and booties.  I love to watch her hands FLY holding her needles.

Diana Neil is my hairdresser in Utah.  Every time I come to Utah, I have Diana cut my hair.  When I lived in Utah, the fee was $7.  That was 13 years ago.  Yesterday, she charged me $15.  Unbelievable.  So I fly to Utah to have my haircut...well, not really, but I take advantage of her living here when I come to get my hair done.  While there, we GABBED like no other (except my sisters).  I had questions for her about previous ward members and her family and she had questions for me.  I was DEVASTATED to learn that our sweet Valerie King had passed away from breast cancer back in April.  I had known during last years visit to Utah that she had gotten the cancer and was ill.  Her son Sterling, is the young man that Kylie had become very good friends with when we lived in Utah and at one point, we all thought or hoped Kylie and Sterling would get married.  (Young love).  Diana had been keeping me informed about Valerie's progress and status but had failed to tell me that she had passed, so when I asked yesterday, I was shocked when she told me Valerie was gone.  We both cried.  And Sterling, who is on a mission, and comes home this week, was given the option to come home early from his mission, but decided to stay as he knew this was what his mother would want.  But his mission president did allow Sterling to call home and talk with his parents for a good 3-4 hour conversation.  Valerie died two days later. 
After my haircut, Becca and I went back over to dad and moms where we had a spaghetti and homemade bread dinner with them, chatted for a bit, but then came back to Becca's house to prepare to watch the BYU football game - season opener.  Becca had huge bowl fulls of peaches picked from their peach tree outside that she had no idea what to do with and no energy to do whatever they needed to have done with them.  WOW, was THAT a mouthful.  So I took charge.  For the first hour of the game, I multi - tasked, peeling and slicing peaches until we were down to only one bowl left.  Becca would bag them into large gallon freezer bags and put them into the freezer for later use.  i saved the last bowl of peaches to peel and slice today to make a peach cobbler for tomorrows family get together.  Becca wants me to teach her how to make the pie crust for the cobbler as she has never made it before.  Of course, Lance has informed that there are probably another three bushels full of peaches still out on the tree so I may be peeling and cutting for the next few days...but that just means I get to watch a few more football games without being asked to do anything else.
BYU football was....ahhhh...sigh.  I love football.  We won...hand idly ...and the game was great.  I didn't get to whoop and holler as much as I'm used to, but I did plenty of screaming, yelling and four letter word calling during the game...(idiot, stupid, crap, NICE).  You know, the basic 'football terms' we all use and say.  And I definitely felt the BYU spirit throughout Utah the short time I had been here...BYU flags on all the cars, posters everywhere, decals, commercials, etc fun.  I even saw BYU DUCT TAPE in the local grocery store here last night.  I ALMOST bought it, but I'm on a pretty strict budget while I'm here and the $8.99 for a small roll of duct tape was cute, but not THAT cute.  I have other BYU things I want to buy while here.  So I'm saving my pennies.  I'll let you know what I get.

I finally got to bed at 12:20 Texas time and I was beat. 
Today, Becca has gone up to Salt Lake for some wedding business and will be back now in about an hour.  I have been up since 8:00 (sleeping in for me) and started on the computer right away...Talked to Kathryn this morning and sent Del a text but otherwise, I'm just hangin until Becca gets home.  Lance and I have had a great visit this a.m. too...what a great guy.  We will have a fun next few days....
So, until later then... much more to come.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

...But We Paid the Price!!!

For weeks, our neighbors on all sides of us have been teasing us about 'having the greenest grass' on the street.  And we have!!!  Since we had new sod laid and new grass growing, we had to keep it continually watered, four times a week and about 40 minutes at each watering station in the yard.  We thought the water was still in the name of the builders until our move in date, but nope, apparently our water bill was changed to our name the minute we signed the papers...July 13th.
When Eric and Debbie moved into their home and had to water the same way we did, their bill was slightly over $400.  We calculated higher, hoping we would have spare change.  And our lawn showed for it.  GREEN???  Yep...the greenest on the street.  Pretty and lush and healthy, not brown.  GREEN!!!
The same color as CASH!!!!
The bill came.
Del called me at work and asked me that 'good news, bad news' question.
Then he had me start guessing.  When I finally said '$600?' and he still showed no signs of me being very close i insisted he just give me the bad news.
In numbers, it looks like this...
In my reaction, it looks like this...
:( :( :( :( !!!

I still haven't announced the arrival of our bill to the neighbors.  I'll tell them when I get back from Utah.
They will be relentless in their teasing, but I guess we deserve it.
Del has since changed the setting on all the sprinklers and stations and we have changed our mowing to every OTHER week.  We may even resort to an evening or two of Indian rain dances around our fire pit in the back yard; face paint and all.
Don't think I won't!!  You know I will!!!

A Trip of Mixed Expectations

I'm going to Utah tomorrow.
I haven't been to Utah in 16 months and the last trip I took, changed my life....forever.
This time though, I have some unknown expectations.
I'm going to see my parents.
I don't talk about my parents much in my blog because I know my mother reads it....and I don't want her being upset or telling my father things she reads or knows I feel.  So I write about them in another place that is just for my reading only.
To say that my daddy's health has declined over the past few years is an understatement.  Parkinsons Disease has wreaked havoc on his body and his abilities and the changes are noticeable and rapidly going down hill.  Last year, when I was in Utah in April, his condition was mild and in it's initial phases of change.  I was able to see the tremors in his hands and the slightness of his drooping shoulders.  The beginnings of a  shuffling walk were almost not noticeable except when he was tired and his mind was still quick and alert.
In February of this year, my parents came to Texas for the baby blessings of two of Elaine's grandchildren.  This is when i noticed a significant change in my daddy's health.  He was slower, much more limited in his hand movements and walking abilities and had to be assisted several times in his eating of his meals.  I was devastated to see him like that.  I had several lengthy conversations with him at that time and was glad to see he still had some spunk left in him, but also noticed how quickly he 'tired' and needed to excuse himself from the family to take the occasional afternoon nap.
Kylie went to California just two months later to be the photographer at her cousin Michelle's wedding.  My daddy performed the ceremony.  Kylie's report when she returned was disappointing.  Apparently, daddy was worsening as each month went by and he was not doing well with traveling to weddings, baby blessings and other occasions.  Elaine went up to Utah in June and reported that daddy was having his good days and his bad days and they were starting to crossover each other.  I asked both Elaine and Rebecca if they felt I needed to take a trip to Utah before the one I was planning in September.  Both said 'no', but they also felt I shouldn't prolong it any later either.
So I leave tomorrow.
Mom says not to expect daddy to die while I'm there. I was relieved.
But Del's step mom said the same thing to Del when he went up to see his father 2 yrs ago in October and his father passed away in his arms.
I don't know what to expect.  I'm told to expect even more changes that I have imagined.  Mom says he will be in bed a lot.  I plan to take pictures of every moment I'm there so as to have memories to bring back with me.  I'm afraid it won't be much longer after this.  But this trip will help me determine that expectation.
I'm hopeful and tend to put 'reality' in it's own little corner.  I do not want the 'reality' of the situation to blind me from my hope and optimism. I fear reality will visit my world soon enough.
There will be much family to see while I'm there.  I don't want to neglect any of them and I certainly want to be accessible to siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.  But I want to be where my memories are needing to be made.  I don't want to leave Utah with ANY regrets this time.
Not my expectation of this trip.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

'And Like a Good Neighbor...'

He's not State Farm...
but he was there for us.
His name is Keith Bradt...and he's our neighbor.
I'll tell you a little more about him in a minute...
But first, I have the following story to tell.
Saturday was a hugely busy day.  I worked in the morning and then had to go grocery shopping, get gas and do laundry all before 4:00 when the Bishop and his wife Patty came to pick us up to go to the temple with them.  I barely got it all done.
We had a great time.  The session was nice, and then they took us out to dinner afterwards to a really cute, quaint, yet VERY nice Italian Restaurant in downtown Denton.  We had such a great visit getting to know each other better and becoming friends.  The Martino family is much like the Packard family...lots of siblings that all live in the same area and have a lot of extended family.  Everyone knows them and everyone loves them.  It was nice that they had invited us to be their friends.
We got home late and I was so tired that i went straight to bed.
But Sunday morning came very early.
We had plans to celebrate our son in laws birthday that day and we were having about 12 of us to dinner.  And I wasn't ready.  So I woke up right before 6:00 and starting cleaning house.  I was folding and moving clothes, cleaning bathrooms, floors and rooms.  I could Del was feeling a little awkward since it was Sunday, but he started to help me hoping we would be done and finished quicker.  It took us just over two hours but the house was spotless, including floors and corners.
Then we got dinner ready and in the oven...pork chops, stuffing, baked potatoes and a whole bunch more.  By the time we were done, we were tired and went to go lay down to get a quick nap before church would start.
But the rain came...started to down pour, and this was a direct answer to prayer that Del had been praying the past few days for.  He had been shoveling and moving the dirt in the backyard for days, hoping to get rain on it to help it go more easily and then see how it shifted with the rain.  I don't know the details, i just know that as soon as the rain started, Del was up, dressed in old clothes and ran outside.  Ironically, he had already gone to his office in secret prayer to ask for forgiveness for 'not keeping the Sabbath as he felt he should have ' earlier...and there he goes, running outside to work in the pouring rain.
As he explained it was the whole 'ox in the mire' story.  We were both feeling like our destination for the day would be directly to hell, but we did what we felt was needed for the day.  He spent a full TWO hours out in the pouring rain, shoveling dirt and preparing the ground for what was a huge project that he would need to do later in the week, of moving more dirt on top of the water packed other dirt.
I know it doesn't make sense, but it was the perfect opportunity and timing for Del's he did it.
We joked about it later with the kids when they all came to dinner later.  Some were surprised that Del had done what he did...knowing that it was NOT what he normally would have done.  They weren't at all surprised with MY choices though...hmmm...I'll have to work on that role model for them later.
We had a fun family get together - yummy food and good company.  Jordan was out of town in Canada on business and Kathryn came for just over an hour before going home to get some rest.  I was great to have Linda, Sean and Becky over for the first time since moving in.

Then comes our 'good neighbor'.
Del had met Keith weeks ago, introducing himself on a walk he had been taking with Lacey.  Keith has a wonderful yard with a gorgeous fence, chickens and yard.  He also has a tractor and offered his services for anything Del might need.  In fact, Keith had already called more than twice asking Del if he was ready to get some work done in our back yard.  And now that Del had taken advantage of our 'ox in the mire' the previous day, Del called Keith and asked him to 'come on over' that night to move some dirt.
So for over two hours, Keith moved dirt over to where Del had previously prepared the soil and while Keith dumped the dirt in place, Del shoveled it and packed it into place and moved into areas where it was most needed.  Keith's help literally saved Del endless hours of moving dirt in a wheel barrow.  They accomplished a LOT!
While they worked, I took them out cold water to drink and made cookies to send home with Keith when they were finished.  He was very grateful but no more so than we were for his work.
I then took a plate of cookies over to several of our new neighbors we have met over the past few weeks.  We have introduced ourselves to three or four families and they in turn have introduced their families to us.  We are establishing some good relationships with each of them, who by the way, are all very religious and Christian living families.  Each have been in our home now, and we have been in theirs...we have shared several conversations on our porches and in our yards and we have now all exchanged phone numbers,  texts and some good laughs.  Our neighbors directly to our right, we met the very first day we came out here.
Eric and Debbie Lokey....and amazing enough, we found out from the Bishop and Patty that Eric had just been diagnosed with kidney cancer.  In talking to the other neighbors, found out Eric had his kidney removed last Saturday and just came home from the hospital today.  We went over with a plate of cookies and the offer to make dinner as soon as their church friends were done bringing dinner in for two weeks.  They accepted the offer.
So, I can feel a lot of love and concern going through the neighborhood and an opportunity for us to make a lot of friends.  We plan on being here for a LONG time.  I want to make sure that these people know and understand that we plan to have them as friends for as long as we are here.
We are blessed to have such great people in our lives.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 23, 2012

It's getting harder and harder to come up with an ORIGINAL title for another post about another visit from Preston.  He's here, on average, 3 times a week...and he is always learning and doing new things that insists that Nana bring out her camera and document it.  I have to take pictures of him!!!
And can't you see why???  Learning to catch ball with Papa, riding his daddy's back, and most recently, he and Lacey battling it out for 'position on the couch'.  Last nights 'discussion' between the two finally came to a peaceful conclusion of 'sharing' the couch while watching Jungle Book...there is room enough for them both.
Glad they could work it out.
At least for LAST night.

Playing in our Backyard


Well...we have lived here just over a month and until today, I had never been in the back half of our property, or what we fondly call, Preston Hollow.  I mean, there are bugs, and spiders, and snakes and other things back there.  Plus, every time anyone goes back there, they complain for the next three days about chigger bites and all other kinds of itchy things.  Not my cup of tea.
But today, being Friday, it was my day off.  No shower, no make up, no hair done and my day to do chores.  It was also the day Del decided I was going to go back and see all the hard work he has been doing over the past month. So I decided to gear up.
I put on baggy jeans, an old BYU t-shirt, wrapped a towel around the inside of my shirt so I wouldn't sweat and get chiggers in there, sprayed my body down with this magical concoction Del has made against insects and pulled my boots on....and out I went into the forest.  I looked an oversized stuffed marshmallow.  But it worked.  I didn't have sweat dripping down the front of me...and I was able to crawl through the over grown bushes and thorny shrubs without scratching up my body.  Del decided to take a few pictures of which are the least flattering I've EVER seen of myself, but he was just glad I was out there with him.
Me too....he has done a LOT of clearing of underbrush, dead tree's and over grown plants.  He's ripped two pairs of jeans, shredded a few long sleeve shirts and gone through three pairs of gloves already.  It's a jungle back there...But he has cleared a nice partial pathway where I was able to walk through with only getting snagged in a few places.  Once he and the boys have this done, it will be a wonderful place back there for everyone to go exploring.
What does Del DO with all that torn out underbrush, dead trees and over grown vines????
He has a bonfire, of course!!!!
I'm on my way home from work last night when I get a text from Kylie, who is at our house.
The text is of the above picture....
I respond with...HOLY CRAP!!! But Del insists he had it all 'under control' and was 'being safe'.  Reminds me of the time Jordan tried to explain about 'ice bombs and bottle rockets' he and Mark Roberts, Elliot Winters and Ricky Adams had been building and shooting off.... 'we had it under control and we knew what we we're doing!!'  I think that's a 'quote'.  And THEY were Eagle Scouts!!  Del isn't!!  I guess I just have to let them do what they're going to do.
Aside from exploring the back half acre, I 'poop scooped' the backyard, cleaned the patios and I'm in the middle of laundry and making dinner for tonight before we are off to the Denton Rodeo with everyone but Kathryn...she has to work.
So there will be more pictures to come...